Nick Clegg: It is ludicrous to suggest I support giving condoms to 5-year-olds

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Nick Clegg has heavily criticised media reports around supporting Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) for all state-schools, saying some suggested that 5-year-olds will be handed condoms.

This week, the Labour party announced a new policy which means SRE would be LGBT-inclusive, would be compulsory in all state-funded schools, and would extend to teacher training.

The Daily Mail has responded to Labour’s plans for compulsory LGBT sex education with the headline “Sex lessons at 5 under Labour”.

The Liberal Democrats and Green Party both have their own similar versions of the policy announced last year. The Tories and UKIP do not support compulsory SRE.

Speaking on his ‘Call Clegg’ programme this morning on LBC, the Deputy Prime Minister was asked by a caller “why people feel it is necessary to introduce sex education in a 5-7-year-old’s classroom.”

He responded: “I am astounded and gob smacked at some of the ludicrous coverage of this. Some of the stuff I’ve seen in the papers in some of the papers claiming that this would be foisting condoms on classrooms of 5-7 year olds.

“It’s actually simply saying that what a lot of schools do anyway – that in an age appropriate way, of course – talking to kids about sex and relationships as they go through school is a very powerful antidote to things like teenage pregnancies, the communication of sexual diseases to sexual harassment and bullying to online bullying.

“Look, I’ve got a 5 year old and a 10 year old at primary school – I think [my 5-year-old] be completely nonplussed.

“It’s just astonishing some of the kind of claims that those like me who believe that it is right to equip our children as they go through school… it is also the role of the parents.”

He continued: “If you don’t want that for your child – you can say that as a parent. The vast majority of schools who do this and do this well do it in conjunction with parents.

“I think its best if parents do know. Most teachers and headteachers aren’t daft – they care about the children in their care – they’re not going to start saying stuff that’s inappropriate to kids.”

The Lib Dem leader went on to say that he had “tried, and failed” to persuade the Conservative Party to support compulsory SRE, and argued that free schools and academies, as well as state schools, should all have statutory SRE.

“If you do it well, it helps protect the health of students as they get older”, he concluded.

PinkNews in September joined with a coalition of LGBT organisations and campaigners writing to political leaders in the UK to highlight a need for compulsory LGBT-inclusive SRE in all schools.

A Private Members’ Bill, tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, requiring SRE to be introduced as a provision of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education had its second reading postponed last year and will now receive parliamentary attention in February.

The Lib Dems also last year signalled support for the bill.

The Prime Minister last year responded to a question about whether sex and relationship education should be compulsory, saying “all schools” should teach the subject.

Last year, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan hinted that she could be moving towards supporting statutory PSHE – however she is yet to confirm her intentions.